October 31, 2003
"Closing racial health disparities is an urgent priority. That is why I am proud to add my strong support for the new Healthcare Equality and Accountability Act and as President I would make it a top priority to close these gaps.
The litany of statistics is harrowing: Infant mortality rates are 2.5 times higher among African-Americans than whites, African-Americans are also twice as likely to have diabetes, 9.5 times more likely to contract HIV, and more likely to die from cancer, heart disease, and stroke. The numbers are similarly disturbing for Hispanics and other minority communities.
While minority populations are disproportionately affected by so many diseases, these populations are less likely to have health insurance and to receive vital services like prenatal care, mammograms and diagnostic tests for heart disease. Lack of insurance is not the only problem. Studies have shown that minority group members receive lower-quality healthcare even when insurance status and income are factored in.
The Healthcare Equality and Accountability Act takes important steps to combat these problems. It expands health coverage in minority communities by expanding eligibility for Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Plan (CHIP) and making enrollment easier. It also addresses the dearth of minority health care providers and removes linguistic and cultural barriers in our health care system. We need to take these steps and more until we close racial health disparities for once and for all."